New NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski has told Suncorp shareholders that he is committed to staying as the chairman of the insurance giant, despite undertaking the massive role of overseeing NBN Co as the new government sets about to overhaul the National Broadband Network (NBN) project.
When Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull appointed Switkowski to the role earlier this month to replace chairwoman Siobhan McKenna and act as interim CEO replacing Mike Quigley until a replacement is found, there was concern that the former Telstra CEO would struggle to juggle all of his competing roles, including being the chairman of Suncorp and a role with Opera Australia.
Speaking to Suncorp shareholders at the company's annual general meeting yesterday, Switkowski said he is committed to Suncorp, but would leave a number of his other roles in order to focus on work at NBN Co.
"In taking on this new post, I recognise that for an interim period, this will involve executive responsibilities and inevitably some new challenges and workload. To accommodate this, I have taken a leave of absence from the Board of Oil Search, and have resigned my positions with Opera Australia and Lynas Corporation," he said.
"The intention is that my executive role will cease upon the appointment of a new CEO for NBN. Finalising this appointment will be a priority for me."
Switkowski said he has the "enthusiasm and capacity" to undertake the duties of being both the Suncorp chairman and the NBN Co chairman.
"I will continue to reassess all of my other commitments to ensure both of these important assignments can coexist without compromise during this interim period. I have been on the board of the Suncorp Group since 2005, and remain committed to the interests of the Suncorp Group and its shareholders."
Switkowski was the first of a number of high-profile ex-Telstra appointments to NBN Co by Turnbull since the change of government. Earlier this week, Turnbull's friend JB Rousselot was appointed to oversee the review of NBN Co, and it has been reported that ex-Telstra executive Justin Milne has also been appointed by NBN Co as part of the review, despite still holding shares in Telstra.
In response to Turnbull poaching a number of ex-Telstra staff for the new-look NBN Co, Telstra CEO David Thodey said that it is reflective of the nature of the Australian telecommunications industry for a lot of the industry executives to have had time with the telecommunications giant in their past.